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Key tips in communication skills: When giving information
  1. Mary Pennell, Lecturer and
  2. Liz Bryan
  1. Mary Pennell is Lecturer in Palliative Nursing, King’s College London, and Liz Bryan is Lecturer/Practitioner, St Christopher’s Hospice, London and King’s College London

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How can we improve our communication skills?

One complaint often made by patients and carers is that they want and need to be kept better informed so that they can be fully involved in the decision-making process (Fallowfield et al, 2001). However, there is far more to helping someone become more aware of a complex or painful situation than simply imparting information (Fallowfield et al, 2002). The ‘craft’ or ‘art’ of good communication is most effectively learnt through experience and reflection.

Reflections on giving information, using Carper (1978) as a model of reflection

Carper (1978), in her theory about the elements of nursing knowledge, identified four areas:

  • ▶▶ Empirical: this relates to scientific, objective knowledge, e.g. about the disease process and its treatment, likely prognosis, etc.

  • ▶▶ Personal: this is at …

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